The U.S. still believes junior Iranian military officers may be responsible for last week’s downing of an American drone and that senior Iranian leadership might not have authorized the strike, Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday.
In an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Pence suggested that lingering doubts about who gave the order to fire on the U.S. drone played a role in President Trump’s decision last week to scrap retaliatory airstrikes.
“We’re not convinced it was authorized at the highest levels,” the vice president said.
Furthermore, Mr. Pence said the administration believes Iran’s restraint in not firing on manned American aircraft is a very positive sign. Iranian officials said last week they could have downed a manned U.S. plane but decided against the idea.
“I think the president was encouraged that Iran actually announced they were tracking a manned American surveillance aircraft on Friday and did not fire on it even though they believed it was in their airspace,” he said, adding that the plane did not actually cross into Iranian airspace.
More broadly, Mr. Pence said the U.S. remains ready to act militarily if necessary.
“Iran should not mistake restraint for a lack of resolve,” he said.
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